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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Pledge on EU funding highlights the absurdity of Brexit promises

The failure of those campaigning for us to leave the EU to take any responsibility for the impossible paradise they promised voters has already been well-documented.  Having won the referendum, the vast majority of them disappeared back to their hall of smoke and mirrors and left others to pick up the pieces.

Now, with the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today that he will guarantee continued funding for EU projects in the wake of the Brexit vote we are seeing how impossible it actually is to deliver on those promises.

The guarantee leaves precious little money to meet the commitment of an extra £350m a week for the NHS, whilst barely covering what we were expecting from the EU in the first place.

As the Welsh First Minister points out in the Western Mail today, the deal only covers about half the regional aid due to Wales. The guarantee does not cover transformational projects such as the South East Wales Metro.

Carwyn Jones is quite right to say that we need a ‘full guarantee’ from the UK Government that funding will continue for the existing EU programmes to 2023. He is also right to say that there should be further funding to address Wales’ economic and social needs, particularly in our most deprived areas after this date.

The case for a major and immediate revision of the Barnett Formula, to take into account Wales’ needs arising from EU withdrawal is now overwhelming. The nirvana promised by those campaigning to take us out of the EU can only be delivered if the UK Government changes its funding arrangements accordingly. So far there is little sign that they are willing to do so.
I suspect that many will take the view that Wales is lucky to get any of the EU projects covered bearing in mind Wales voted to leave the EU. Scotland of course in a stronger position whilst Cornwall and other development areas have a weak case to have EU money replaced having also voted to leave. The amount of money Wales and these other areas received was, after all, made abundantly clear before the referendum and people were told it was at risk if they voted leave.

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